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Merkle Loop

Easy
  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

3.4 mile 5.4 kilometer loop
100% Runnable
Easy

Elevation

Ascent: 79' 24 m
Descent: -78' -24 m
High: 66' 20 m
Low: 6' 2 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 4% (2°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Trail shared by Zander Göpfert

A figure-eight loop run with views across the Patuxent Riverway and marshland and quiet sections through inner woodland.

Zander Göpfert

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Ground are open sunrise to sunset. Visitor Center open on weekends from 10 am - 4 pm.

Overview

From the Visitor Center, this run heads east for a two-mile loop that visits some of the viewpoints across the river with opportunities to spot osprey and their nests. This section overlaps with the Critical Area Driving Tour (CADT) route on wide road, which can be nice for large groups or individuals who are more confident on flat ground.

That said, the second half of this run heads to the southwest corner of the sanctuary onto the easy Paw Paw Trail for a sample of the blazed hiking trails available to explore further, such as the Poplar Springs trail and Mounds Trail.

As all trails in the sanctuary can be traveled on foot in either direction, this run can be done in reverse or adapted to accommodate groups of varying abilities and/or ages.

Need to Know

CADT is open daily to driving, hiking, horseback riding, and biking. Beware of ticks. No hunting.

Runner Notes

Scenic and flat.

Description

From the Visitor Center parking head east toward Merkle Pond and the orange-blazed CADT. Turn right (south) at the first intersection to loop past access for the white-blazed Lookout Creek Trail toward the Catfish Pond Trail, boardwalk viewpoint and osprey nest area.

Head back to the Visitor Center along the CADT road to the north of Windmill Pond, this time heading west from the parking area toward the Paw Paw Trail. This easy trail loops around Stump Pond, where visitors can fish or enjoy a picnic.

From either end of the Paw Paw Trail, there is access to the Poplar Springs trail to the north and Mounds Trail to the southeast to extend your run.

Flora & Fauna

Deer, beavers, osprey, songbirds, Canada geese.

History & Background

Named after Edgar Merle (1900-1984), who spent the majority of his life working for the protection of wildlife in this area, specifically around Canada geese habitat. Today, this land is home to one of the largest wintering grounds for Canada geese on the Chesapeake Bay's western shore.

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#3595

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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Featured Run Rankings

#38

in Maryland

#3,595

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Photos

White Ibis (imm.), Eudocimus albus; Merkle Wildlife Management Area" by Matt Tillett (https://tinyurl.com/wq38fbn), Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).
Nov 12, 2019 near Dunkirk, MD
DSCN1641" by Andrea Dufrenne (https://tinyurl.com/v6nm4hf), Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)."
Nov 12, 2019 near Dunkirk, MD

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